Baldwin Baker University cemented a bond with its founders Friday when a benefactor laid the first stone of a new campus chapel.
About 100 people attended a ceremony marking the rebirth of a 19th century Methodist chapel shipped stone-by-stone to Baker from Sproxton, England.
"Today is one of a series of days of great importance in the life of Baker University," said the Rev. Ira DeSpain, university minister.
R.R. Osborne, an Olathe banker and philanthropist who donated $1 million to relocate the church, got the reconstruction project underway. With the same trowel used in an 1864 christening ceremony at the original church site, Osborne spread a mortar bed for stone No. DJ5001 -- one of hundreds of individually marked pieces that will be put together in the following months.
DeSpain said the chapel would bond Baker, founded in 1858 by pioneer Methodists, to the country where the Methodist faith began.
While serving as a tribute to Baker's past, he said, the church would fill a current need. The university was holding services in a music hall when university officials approached villagers in Sproxton about the relocation project.
"The Baker University campus needed a place of sacred worship," he said.
University officials said they hoped to have an opening service and dedication in the fall of 1996.
Besides providing a place for services and weddings -- the first has been booked for Aug. 10 -- the 100-seat chapel will house DeSpain's office and a museum documenting the church's history.
"It's especially fitting that the university minister finally has a home at the university," said Jim Bovaird, student senate president.
Workers in England began to dismantle the chapel in June. The university recently received the last of 198 crates containing the chapel's ironstone, stained-glass windows and wood fittings.
The congregation in Sproxton, 60 miles north of London, was formed in 1804. Members met in homes for almost 60 years before raising money to build the chapel.